Ever wonder what plants do when you're not around? How about an entire forest or grassland? Not even the most dedicated plant researcher can be continuously present to track environmental effects on plant behavior, and so numerous tools have been developed to measure and quantify these effects.
Frames from a GigaPan time-lapse sequence showing vegetation changes induced by summer monsoon season precipitation. The three images, which demonstrate the level of image detail capture allowed by the GigaPan system, show the response of a cholla cactus to precipitation over a 22-day period.
Credit: Image courtesy of Nichols et al.
Time-lapse photography has been used to study many aspects of plant behavior, but typically only a few plants can be captured with a single camera at the desired level of detail. This limitation has, for the most part, confined such observations to the laboratory.
Recently, however, researchers have maximized both the scale and resolution of time-lapse photography with the use of a novel robotic camera mount and software—enabling the detailed visualization of plant movements across a wide panoramic view. This system greatly improves the utility of time-lapse photography by capturing interactions between the environment and a plant population in a single sequence. The new technique is demonstrated in the September issue of Applications in Plant Sciences (available for free viewing at http://www.bioone.org/doi/pdf/10.3732/apps.1300033).
"The beauty of time-lapse is that we can make observations in the plant's time scale. Changes in the habitat can be correlated with changes in the plant itself," notes coauthor Janet Steven.
Developed by Randy Sargent and colleagues at the Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, the GigaPan EPIC Pro is a robotic camera system that makes it possible to create time-lapse sequences of panoramas that also allow the viewer to zoom in at an incredible level of detail, e.g., from a landscape view to that of an individual plant. Environmental responses can be seen across a large population with the additional advantage of examining individual responses within the same population using one time-lapse sequence.
In the current study, Mary Nichols (of the U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service) and colleagues demonstrated the technique in both indoor and outdoor settings. Using a robotic mount, high-resolution images were captured across a panorama and stitched together with software developed by Sargent and colleagues (available through http://wiki.gigapan.org/creating-time-machines). The researchers chose to use a practical and affordable camera (the Canon G10) to demonstrate the feasibility of the technique to a variety of users.
The indoor setup created a panorama three photos high by seven photos wide of a time-lapse sequence of a quick-growing variety of Brassica rapa plants. This panorama of 21 photos was captured at 15-minute intervals for 21 days. Changes among the plants can be seen as they respond to cabbage white butterfly caterpillars and stinkbugs introduced during the experiment. The helical movements, or circumnutation, of the plants is also evident.
The outdoor setup was powered by solar panels and photographed an Arizona grassland in a panorama four photos high by seven photos wide. These 28 pictures were taken every two hours for nearly one month. The rapid greening response of the grassland to rainfall is easily seen as well as the response of an individual cholla cactus as its branches become erect due to the rainfall.
The study describes the new technique in detail and provides a materials listing, costs, and example sources for components to build the solar-powered outdoor system.
As Steven emphasizes, "The technique has amazing potential to study the importance of the environment on plant phenology and behavior." Depending on the researcher's needs, the time-lapse sequence can be scaled from hours (e.g., flash floods) to years (e.g., post-fire recovery). Researchers can further adapt the technique by adjusting the overall resolution, which can be increased by capturing a larger number of individual images at a higher zoom.
Time-lapse photography has advanced the analysis of landscape change, phenological responses, and plant movement. Current research using the GigaPan system is investigating processes including plant response to grazing and precipitation patterns. This new technique will be a powerful tool to allow researchers to simultaneously examine environmental influence over time across a population as well as at a high-resolution on a single plant, and to do so with a minimum of manpower. Additionally, it will be useful in a number of other disciplines, including geology, archaeology, biodiversity, glaciology, and rangeland ecosystem research.
Applications in Plant Sciences (APPS) is a monthly, peer-reviewed, open access journal focusing on new tools, technologies, and protocols in all areas of the plant sciences. It is published by the Botanical Society of America, a nonprofit membership society with a mission to promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. The first issue of APPS published in January 2013; APPS is available as part of BioOne's Open Access collection.
For further information, please contact the APPS staff at email@example.com.
Beth Parada | EurekAlert!
Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University
New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences